CALDWELL, Idaho — Not everyone agrees on how to create a safe environment for students —particularly transgender students.
It's a hot-button topic, with school districts around Idaho actively addressing the issue. But the state legislature might have the final say.
On Monday, the Senate Education Committee introduced legislation against allowing transgender students to use school facilities of the gender they identify with.
"The gender you've been assigned at birth, that's the bathroom that you're going to use, that's the locker room that you're going to use," Republican State Rep. Brent Crane said.
If passed, that legislation would supersede existing gender inclusivity policies around the state and shelve proposed policies, like Caldwell School District's proposed policy 3281.
Policy 3281 would have allowed students the freedom to use whatever school facility they're comfortable with. On Monday, community members testified before the school board about the policy.
"I don't think anyone should be able to say that's okay for children to be possibly sexually exploited or put in an uncomfortable situation," community member Rachel Hazelip said.
This wasn't the first time school members heard concerns; the last school board meeting was abruptly canceled after attendees broke protocol and started shouting.
A group of Boise students stood outside the school district's office supporting the policy. Transgender student Phoenix Mccoubrey said inclusive policies ensure all students feel welcomed and accepted at school.
"My mental health would not be where it is, and I wouldn't be able to come and support other students because I quite honestly can't say that I would be alive if not given the opportunity to be myself," he said.
Mccoubrey said he hopes people against inclusive gender policies realize the potential positive impact.
"The opportunity for students to be able to use the restroom that they want and identify how they want use the pronouns that they want is going to save lives, and it's going to make for a more loving community," he said.
Crane believes having laws at the state level relieves some pressure from school districts like Caldwell to address the issue.
"Parents want to know as they move from school district to school district competing in sports, that the locker room and the bathroom policies are going to be uniform and the same and that their children will be protected," he said.
There is no timeline for when the Senate will hear the bill, but Crane said likely within the next few weeks.
Crane said he's anticipating lawmakers will easily pass the legislation through the House of Representatives and the Senate.
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